The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
27th February to 11th March, 1946

Seventy-Seventh Day: Friday, 8th March, 1946
(Part 7 of 9)

[MR. JUSTICE JACKSON continues his cross examination of General von Bodenschatz]

[Page 249]

Q. Now, there were also present Milch, Kesselring, and all of the others who are named in the list at the head of the note.

A. Yes.

Q. And you then recorded that Goering told - oh, by the way, all of those men were connected with the Armed Forces of Germany, were they not?

A. Those were all men from the Air Force, the leading men at the time. General Milch was active in armament, Lieut.- General Kesselring was, I believe, Chief of Staff, they were all officers who were in leading positions.

Q. All concerned with the Air Force you say. And this meeting was held on 2nd December, 1936. Are we correct about that?

A. Yes.

Q. Then Goering opened the conference by saying, "The Press all over the world is excited about the landing of 5,000 German volunteers in Spain. Official complaint by Great Britain and also by . . . " Refreshing your recollection, that is what occurred, is it not?

A. Yes.

Q. Then Goering said, "The general situation is very serious," and that he took over full responsibility, did he not?

A. Yes. The general situation was very serious. England was rearming intensively and a state of readiness was desired.

Q. Now, he next said, did he not, that "Silence until 1941 is desirable. However, we cannot know whether there will be implications before. We are already in a state of war. It is only that no shot is being fired so far." Did he say that?

A. That is recorded in these minutes.

Q.. And he also said, did he not, that "Beginning January 1st, 1937, all factories for aircraft production shall run as if mobilization had been ordered."

A. Yes.

Q. Well, it is there in the text, is it not?

A. Yes, it is contained here in the minutes.

Q. Now, you have testified that Goering had no prior knowledge of the action taken against the Jews on the night of November 9th and 10th of 1938.

A. I gathered that from the fact that, on the next day, he came to me and was very dismayed.

Q. He was informed about them the next day?

A. The next day that was in the Press, in the newspaper.

Q. You said that he complained about the people who instigated them?

A. That I was told by Captain Wiedemann, who was here with me in captivity. He told me that a few days later Hermann Goering came to the Fuehrer with proofs and complained about what had occurred.

Q. Whom did he complain about?

A. He did not tell me that. Wiedemann told me that Goering complained about Heydrich and Goebbels.

Q. I did not understand that answer.

A. Wiedemann told me - this I did not learn myself from Hermann Goering - but Wiedemann told me he had complained about the instigators, and that the instigators were Heydrich and Goebbels.

Q. And Heydrich and Goebbels were both officials in Hitler's regime, were they not?

A. Dr. Goebbels was Reich Minister of Propaganda, and Heydrich was Chief of the Gestapo.

Q. So, immediately following these pogroms, Goering knew and complained to Hitler that they had been incited by officials of the Nazi regime?

A. I do not know the details as to what he said there. Captain Wiedemann knows about that and can testify to it.

Q. Goering was then at the height of his influence, both with the Fuehrer and with the country, was he not?

[Page 250]

A. He had at that time the greatest influence.

Q. And I understand you to say that he immediately called a meeting of Gauleiter?

A. The meeting of Gauleiter was a few weeks later. I heard about it from the former Gauleiter of Styria, Dr. Ueberreiter, who is in captivity here with me. This Gauleiter Ueberreiter took part in that meeting.

Q. How long did he wait before he called the meeting?

A. Dr. Uberreiter told me that it was a few weeks afterwards.

Q. Well, did you know about his holding a meeting on 12th November, 1938 at his offices in the Reich Ministry for Aviation?

A. I cannot remember that.

Q. And do you remember that he had present at that meeting Heydrich, Goebbels and many others? Is that the meeting to which you refer?

A. In this case it might be necessary to ask Dr. Ueberreiter who was at that meeting. He told me that Dr. Goebbels was present, and also the Gauleiter.

Q. And it was the custom of Goering to keep minutes of the meetings that he conducted?

A. Hermann Goering always had stenographers present, and these stenographers took minutes of such meetings.

Q. And you want us to understand that Goering was shocked and offended by what had happened to the Jews on the night of 9th and 10th November, 1938?

A. He did not agree with it because, as I mentioned previously, he said it would be a great wrong, it would be unreasonable economically, and it would harm our prestige abroad. I was told by Dr. Ueberreiter that Goering had spoken in these terms to the Gauleiter.

Q. Was it known to you that on November the 10th, two days after those pogroms, Goering promulgated the order fining all of the Jews a billion Reichsmarks, confiscated their insurance, and passed a new decree excluding them from economic life? Did you know about that?

A. I have heard of it; but I personally had nothing to do with the idea, and with this decree, as I was only the military adjutant.

Q. These decrees were promulgated two days after this pogrom that you say he complained about, is that right?

A. I do not know the connection.


LT.-COL. GRIFFITH-JONES: May it please the Tribunal, I have only one matter which I want to make clear.

Q. You have referred to a meeting which took place in Schleswig-Holstein in July or August of 1939, at which Goering met a number of Englishmen, and you described those Englishmen, the first time you mentioned them, as members of the Government, and the second time you mentioned them I think you mentioned them as economic specialists?

A. So far as I know now, they were English economic leaders, not members of the Government.

Q. I am obliged to you. Would it be correct to say that they were leading industrial and business gentlemen with no connection with the government whatsoever?

A. I do not know to what degree these gentlemen were influential. At any rate, Hermann Goering asked at the end that the gentlemen should exert their influence on the authorities in England in the interests of the peace.

Q. Do you know that that conference between Goering and those gentlemen took place at the instigation of Dahlerus?

A. Dahlerus is alleged to have brought about this connection, but I was first persuaded of that in a discussion with defence counsel Dr. Stahmer, who discussed

[Page 251]

this matter with me. Doctor Stahmer said he knew that M. Dahlerus had asked these gentlemen to come to Germany. It is only on the basis of this information that I assume Dahlerus asked these gentlemen to come.

Q. And do you know that it was the object of M. Dahlerus that leading German and English personalities should meet, in order that they should understand one another's points of view?

A. M. Dahlerus later - he was again in Berlin after that meeting - on that occasion I met him in Berlin and, in conversations with him there, I gained the impression that he was greatly interested that peace should be maintained between Germany and England and that he, assisted by Reichsmarshal Goering, tried to establish this connection with influential British circles.

Q. One last question to you. Do you know that, in arranging that meeting and throughout the course of the negotiations thereafter, Dahlerus stressed the British point of view to Goering, and in particular tried to impress Goering with the fact that the English were losing their patience with the policy of aggression being pursued by the German Government?

A. I cannot remember having discussed with Dahlerus this line of thought which you mention now.

THE PRESIDENT: Any other questions to ask?


DR. STAHMER: I have only one more question.



Q. In the minutes of 2nd December, 1936, which were shown to you before and which you have before you, there is one paragraph which has not been read entirely. In my opinion it is very important for the interpretation and for the purpose and meaning of that meeting.

It says there, "The general situation is very serious. Russia wants war. England is rearming strongly. Therefore, the order is: From today on, highest degree of readiness, no consideration for financial difficulties. General assumes full responsibility."

Was this order "Highest degree of readiness from today on" issued merely because Russia, as it says here, wants war and England is rearming strongly? Was that the motive?

A. What do you mean to say?

Q. Was the gravity of the general situation the motive for the order "Highest degree of readiness from today on"?

A. At any rate, there was no intention of attack involved but a measure for defence.

Q. If it says here "General assumes full responsibility," could that be understood to refer to the words "no consideration for financial difficulties " which would be a permissible literal interpretation?

A. That refers to the financial difficulties, because the Reichsmarshal had frequent controversies on that point with the Reich Finance Minister, because the Luftwaffe had slightly exceeded its budget.

DR. STAHMER: Thank you. I have no more questions.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.

DR. STAHMER: I should like to call as the next witness General Field-Marshal Milch.

ERHARD MILCH took the stand.

[Page 252]


Q. What is your name?


A. Erhard Milch.

THE PRESIDENT: Repeat this oath after me

I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.



Q. Witness, did you take part in the First World War?

A. Yes.

Q. In what position?

A. First I was an artillery officer, and at the end a Captain in the Air Corps.

Q. When did you leave the Army after the end of the First World War?

A. In the spring of 1920.

Q. What were your activities after you left the Army?

A. I went into civil aviation.

Q. When did you join the Wehrmacht?

A. 1933.

Q. Did you go straight into the Air Force?

A. Yes.

Q. What position did you have when the Second World War began?

A. I was General and Inspector-General of the Air Force.

Q. When did the military construction of the Luftwaffe start?

A. 1935.

Q. To what extent?

A. A defensive air force was built up.

Q. Can you give us more details about that?

A. In the year 1933 Germany had left the League of Nations, and consequently also the Disarmament Conference. Hitler attempted to discuss with the individual nations whether or not disarmament should continue. These attempts to disarm failed, and Germany began to rearm. It was questionable whether the other nations would approve of that. Consequently, Germany decided that it was imperative to have military strength in the air also, and to achieve that the air force was itself to create an air force which would be sufficient for the defence of Germany. This is manifested by the fact that primarily fighters and flak-artillery were provided.

Likewise, the organization of the German Air Force was created as a defence measure. It consisted at that time of four Air Force Districts (Luftkreise), which one can picture by imagining the surface of Germany to be segmented by a cross. There were the sections North-East, South-East, North- West and South-West. Also, the strength of the air force, as it was organized, was not planned for an aggressive war or for a large-scale war. Besides fighter planes there were also bombers, but we always called these bomber formations the "Risiko Luftwaffe" ("take a chance Air Force") that is to say, their function was to prevent, if possible, any of Germany's neighbours from starting a war against Germany.

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